Combatting social isolation and increasing social participation of older adults through the use of technology: A systematic review of existing evidence

Australas J Ageing. 2018 Sep;37(3):184-193. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12572. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Objectives: There are growing concerns that social isolation presents risks to older people's health and well-being. Thus, the objective of the review was to explore how technology is currently being utilised to combat social isolation and increase social participation, hence improving social outcomes for older people.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted across the social science and human-computer interaction databases.

Results: A total of 36 papers met the inclusion criteria and were analysed using a four-step process. Findings were threefold, suggesting that: (i) technologies principally utilised social network services and touch-screen technologies; (ii) social outcomes are often ill-defined or not defined at all; and (iii) methodologies used to evaluate interventions were often limited and small-scale.

Conclusion: Results suggest a need for studies that examine new and innovative forms of technology, evaluated with rigorous methodologies, and drawing on clear definitions about how these technologies address social isolation/participation.

Keywords: social isolation; social participation; technology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Isolation*
  • Social Networking*
  • Social Participation*
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Video Games